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Alberta Politics: Grits in Ottawa and Dippers in Edmonton: far from the worst combination for keeping Alberta’s economy in motion

PHOTOS: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley take questions from the media in this screen shot of the government’s video. Bloggers were not invited, but I’m blaming the feds and promising not to go all Rebel Medi… . . . → Read More: Alberta Politics: Grits in Ottawa and Dippers in Edmonton: far from the worst combination for keeping Alberta’s economy in motion

Alberta Politics: Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan assails Notley Government’s royalty ‘mistake’

PHOTOS: Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan. Below: Mr. McGowan with federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair; Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell. Many progressive Albertans who were shocked and troubled by the Notley Government’s dramatic rever… . . . → Read More: Alberta Politics: Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan assails Notley Government’s royalty ‘mistake’

Alberta Politics: NDP to release new energy royalty framework at week’s end – brace yourself for Apocalypse Friday!

PHOTOS: The next Apocalypse is scheduled for Friday morning. There will be an embargoed media briefing first. Below: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and Royalty Review Advisory Panel Chair Dave Mowat. Brace yourself for a stor… . . . → Read More: Alberta Politics: NDP to release new energy royalty framework at week’s end – brace yourself for Apocalypse Friday!

Alberta Politics: Reaction to this afternoon’s Budget Speech is bound to be completely predictable

ILLUSTRATIONS: A mosaic planned for some future Legislature renovation showing the Opposition and Government positions on the budget. Below: A scene from the Kabuki theatre in which actors portraying Premier Rachel Notley and Finance Minister Joe Ceci contemplate the books left them by the PC government … or something. Below that: Finance Minister Joe Ceci […]

The post Reaction to this afternoon’s Budget Speech is bound to be completely predictable appeared first on Alberta Politics.

Alberta Politics: Alberta’s NDP government gets serious about economic diversification, an overdue change

PHOTOS: Premier Rachel Notley with Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous and Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee moments after the two cabinet members were sworn into their new portfolios. Below: Labour and Advanced Education Minister Lori Sigurdson. A key part of the business of any government is the business of business, and Alberta’s New […]

The post Alberta’s NDP government gets serious about economic diversification, an overdue change appeared first on Alberta Politics.

Alberta Politics: Alberta’s Wildrose Opposition: just off the turnip truck … or what?

ILLUSTRATIONS: Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, back in the day. Below: A newer version of the same hospital, one of the buildings that’s now falling apart. (From CardCow.com) Below that image: Wildrose Health Critic Drew Barnes; Richard Starke, MLA, and Richard Starkey, MBE. Anybody who’s been inside the Royal Alexandra Hospital in the past decade knows […]

The post Alberta’s Wildrose Opposition: just off the turnip truck … or what? appeared first on Alberta Politics.

Alberta Politics: Lawyers, guns and money: Russia’s intervention in Syria offers a useful teaching moment for Canadians

PHOTOS: A Russian Su-34 bomber releases a bomb near the provisional ISIS capital of Raqqa in Syria. (Russian Ministry of Defence photo.) Below: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Russia’s military intervention in the Syrian civil war has offered a unique teaching moment for Canadians about the […]

The post Lawyers, guns and money: Russia’s intervention in Syria offers a useful teaching moment for Canadians appeared first on Alberta Politics.

Alberta Politics: ‘Alberta is not Greece yet’ … Why do we have to pay for Jack Mintz’s mythmaking?

PHOTOS: Calgary in the near future, as fancifully described by the usual suspects at the University of Calgary, if the NDP doesn’t start delivering Conservative polices with alacrity. Below: U of Calgary Professor Jack Mintz, grabbed from Imperial Oil’s annual report; former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge. VICTORIA, B.C. “Alberta is not yet Greece, […]

The post ‘Alberta is not Greece yet’ … Why do we have to pay for Jack Mintz’s mythmaking? appeared first on Alberta Politics.

Alberta Diary: Prentice Government takes Alberta from boom to bust in one weekend, breaking all records

Premier Jim Prentice points the way for public spending in Alberta now that our boom has gone bust again. Oil prices, ya know… But read the Reaper’s grim lips: “No new taxes!” Actual Alberta premiers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Finance Minister Robin Campbell, Infrastructure Minister Manmeet Bhullar and Labour Minister Ric McIver, three of the Seven Horsepersons of the Alberta Fiscal Apocalypse

Guess what, we’re broke again out here in The Richest Place on Earth! ™

Yesterday, citing the spectacular recent drop in oil prices, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice pulled his Grim Reaper’s hood over (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta’s big problem is the same as Russia’s – so what’s Stephen Harper doing about it?

Keep those wells a-pumpin! Keep those oil prices low! Squeeze those Russkies! Uh … just a minute. … isn’t that bad for Alberta’s many varieties of Conservative? Below: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mr. Harper’s hero, Margaret Thatcher.

The Globe and Mail, tireless cheerleader for the Harper Government, was gloating Monday about the impact falling oil prices, a declining Ruble and the bite of Western sanctions are having on Russia, which, the Report on Business rejoiced, is being pushed toward the brink of recession.

Woo-hoo! That’ll teach those Russkies to try to keep NATO (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: What the Fraser Institute’s numbers actually show, minus the spin: Alberta has a revenue problem, not a spending problem

The Fraser Institute: peddling conclusions that don’t match the evidence and have enough holes to store captured carbon. Actual Fraser Institute “fellows” may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: A piece of Swiss cheese, which may actually resemble the claims in a Fraser Institute press release, metaphorically speaking.

If the Fraser Institute told the whole truth, or if the mainstream media did its job, here’s the what the first sentence of the Edmonton Journal’s story about the institute’s most recent “report” could have said:

“Alberta’s finances are in better shape than other energy-producing provinces and states, says a report released (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: You could drive one of those tar sands heavy haulers through the gaping holes in the latest Fraser Institute ‘study’ of Alberta’s finances

A worker in Fort McMurray prepares to drive this truck through the holes in the Fraser Institute’s “report,” which claims Alberta’s finances are in worse shape than those of places like Texas, North Dakota and Louisiana. Below: The Norwegian oil port of Stavanger, which, according to the Fraser Institute, doesn’t exist!

Alberta should adopt a sales tax, according to the latest press release from the Fraser Institute.

But don’t worry, the latest piece of far-right puffery from the market-fundamentalist “think tank” – which prefers to refer to this bumpf as a “study” or a “report” – only advocates a consumption (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Three reasons why Ottawa’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program ‘reforms’ likely mean little

There’s always been a worldwide pool of skilled and unskilled employees like these fellows for jobs in North America – immigration. Below: Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

Canadians are within their rights to be highly skeptical of the long list of changes to the Harper Government’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program announced yesterday by Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

Indeed, we would be nuts to be anything but skeptical about this effort by the government to “change the channel” on what really is a national scandal.

First, there has simply never been any reason for a temporary worker (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Ironies abound in Alberta’s agitated politics as Alison Redford cranks up the postage meter

How Albertans should see Progressive Conservative and Wildrose policies and procedures. Below: The clever Wildrose Facebook attack on PC Premier Alison Redford’s faintly unsavoury taxpayer-funded mail out, which makes it look a little worse than it really is.

Am I the only one who sees irony in the leader of Alberta’s ultra-conservative Wildrose Party working up a full head of steam because the merely very conservative government of Premier Alison Redford plans to mail a colourful budget brochure to every household in the province – at taxpayer expense, of course?

After all, the Wildrose Party of Danielle Smith is effectively (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta Health Services trimmers toss out a couple of market-fundy myths to save cash

Alberta Health Services Board Chair Stephen Lockwood demonstrates how to trim a provincial health care budget. Actual AHS board members may not be exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Lockwood in his official AHS portrait.

Two pernicious and slightly dissonant myths that cloud discussion of public health care are the idea that to get the best public-sector managers we must pay excessive private-sector style salaries and perks and the plainly preposterous notion the private sector always does everything better.

So it was interesting how Stephen Lockwood, the apparently cold-eyed and pragmatic trucking company executive from Okotoks picked by the

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Alberta Health Services trimmers toss out a couple of market-fundy myths to save cash

Alberta Diary: Alberta still needs a “city party” – a role the New Democratic Party could fill

Typical Alberta Progressive Conservative Party members. Or, wait, are those Wildrose members? Alberta’s rural elite may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel. Where’s the NDP when we need them?

Here it is 2013, the Earth is about to become an urban planet, and the Progressive Conservative Government of Alberta and the Opposition Wildrose Party are locked in a titanic battle to win the hearts and minds of conservative rural voters.

What’s wrong with this picture?

City folks? As far as both parties are concerned, we’re

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Alberta still needs a “city party” – a role the New Democratic Party could fill

Alberta Diary: Close enough for government work: Alberta Tories manage to hold their centre-right turf

Finance Minister Doug Horner preps Albertans for yesterday’s budget. Actual Alberta finance ministers may not appear exactly as illustrated – but that’s the trick, isn’t it? Below: The real Doug Horner.

All in all, I guess, you could make a good case this was a pretty lousy budget.

It’s deeply confusing, as without any doubt the Alberta government intended, and there are a couple of real disasters lurking in its pages – got kids in post-secondary education, anyone?

But in the aftermath of the Alberta Budget Speech read this afternoon by Progressive Conservative Finance Minister Doug Horner, who was wearing

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Close enough for government work: Alberta Tories manage to hold their centre-right turf

Alberta Diary: Alberta budget primer: when they say ‘tough decisions,’ they really mean … ‘decisions that will be tough on you’

Typical Albertans await tomorrow’s budget aboard the Good Ship Richest Place on Earth. Alberta may not actually be as damp as illustrated. Below: Premier Alison Redford. Why is this woman smirking?

Oh, we’ll squeeze you till the pips squeak, Premier Alison Redford seemed to be promising Albertans yesterday, as we nervously awaited the provincial budget that is to be brought down, possibly in flames, this afternoon.

Well, we’re all really looking forward to that out here in the pothole-riddled Richest Place on Earth, I can assure you!

This is different, of course, from the promises Ms. Redford was promising back

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Alberta budget primer: when they say ‘tough decisions,’ they really mean … ‘decisions that will be tough on you’

Alberta Diary: Are Alberta’s cannily incompetent Conservatives quietly awaiting a ‘Bitumen Gusher’?

Everybody should be as happy about Alberta’s “Bitumen Gusher” as these two guys, your blogger and former Finance Minister Ron Liepert. Below: AUPE’s chart of the price differential between Alberta bitumen and West Texas Intermediate crude. Below that: The Alberta government’s chart showing its natural resource revenue projections to 2022, prepared for last month’s Economic Summit. Obviously there’s no cause for panic.

Have things really changed all that much for Alberta since then-energy minister Ron Liepert predicted in early 2012 that the province was on the verge of a “Bitumen Gusher” of unprecedented magnitude?

One just hates to endorse the

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Are Alberta’s cannily incompetent Conservatives quietly awaiting a ‘Bitumen Gusher’?

Alberta Diary: Looking back in perplexity: where did all of Alberta’s money go again?

First World money and Third World roads. If we’re so rich in Alberta, why do we seem so poor? A motorist negotiates one of Edmonton’s famed potholes. Actual Edmonton drivers may not have snappy uniforms like this fellow. Below: Author, professor and former Alberta Liberal politician Kevin Taft, the cover of Follow the Money.

There aren’t many surprises in Alberta – at least if you’ve been paying attention.

However, apparently paying attention is something you can’t expect either the government or the media to do.

Consider the news in the Edmonton Journal earlier this week that “Experts have warned of

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Looking back in perplexity: where did all of Alberta’s money go again?

Alberta Diary: ‘Freddy Lee’ Morton, the journalistic sequel: We’ve already seen this horror movie, thanks!

Freddy Lee Morton, in happier times, with your blogger. Below: Firewaller Tom Flanagan; the entire separatist 2001 Firewall team (grabbed from the National Post).

Freddy Lee “Ted” Morton, the worst premier Alberta never had, was back in the pages of the Calgary Herald the other day, bloviating at length about the need for brutal attack on public service salaries because this province’s frequently fluctuating principal revenue source has gone and fluctuated again.

Alert readers will recall Dr. Morton describing himself as “every liberal’s nightmare, a right-winger with a PhD.” He was also the owner of the mysterious “Frederick Lee”

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: ‘Freddy Lee’ Morton, the journalistic sequel: We’ve already seen this horror movie, thanks!

Alberta Diary: A Tale of Two Provinces: B.C. NDP and Wild Rosehip Tea Party show why opposition matters

Razzle-dazzle, sis-boom-bah, balanced budgets, rah-rah-rah! Danielle Smith and the Wild Rosehip Tea Party yell squad cheers for Alison Redford’s Tory team’s worst plays on the field. The actual Alberta opposition may not be quite as illustrated. Below: Ms. Redford and B.C. Premier Christie Clark. Why are these two premiers smiling?

British Columbia and Alberta, Canada’s two westernmost provinces, have lots in common.

Both have economies that rely heavily on volatile natural resources, well-educated, diverse and generally socially progressive populations, and Westminster-style parliamentary legislatures in beautiful old buildings.

Both are also governed by irresponsible neoconservative coalitions with misleading names that

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: A Tale of Two Provinces: B.C. NDP and Wild Rosehip Tea Party show why opposition matters

Alberta Diary: Welcome to Wildrose Alberta! What do you mean they didn’t win?

OK, the National Post got a little overheated with this election-day photo of Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith. But, really, what’s the difference? Below: Premier Ernest Manning and Premier Alison Redford, bookends in Alberta’s endless conservative governing dynasty.

In April 2012, spooked by the dangers posed by a far-right Wildrose government, progressive voters in Alberta abandoned the parties they supported by the thousands to vote for Premier Alison Redford’s Conservatives.

What they got when they walked away from the New Democrats, the Alberta Liberals and the Alberta Party, it turns out, was a Wildrose government.

By this, of course, I don’t

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Welcome to Wildrose Alberta! What do you mean they didn’t win?

Alberta Diary: Despite a lot of distraction, illegal political donations still stink up Alberta

Political culture in Alberta? Maybe not exactly as illustrated, but it’s still a problem for the Redford Government if Albertans see it that way. Below: O. Brian Fjeldheim.

OK, we’re all enjoying a nice quiet Family Day long weekend. This gives us an opportunity to look back at the interlocking illegal political contribution eruptions that until recently plagued the Progressive Conservative government of Alberta Premier Alison Redford.

The past couple of weeks have been a busy time for Alberta political commentators, with daily events that might have been a scandal in some places, but somehow just didn’t make the grade

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Despite a lot of distraction, illegal political donations still stink up Alberta

Alberta Diary: Edmonton’s homeless shelters home to body lice, ‘refugee-camp-like conditions’

Alberta’s perpetually mismanaged boom-and-bust economy makes homelessness worse, as hopeful immigrants flock here in hopes of a better life, and find nowhere to live. At least this guy has warm boots. Below: Dr. Stan Houston and Dr. Mat Rose.

Welcome to Alberta, the Richest Place on Earth, where body lice are showing up on residents of homeless shelters, an affliction normally associated with Third World refugee camps.

Earlier this week, University of Alberta infectious diseases specialist Dr. Stan Houston warned colleagues in an email of “a very powerful health indicator of the kind of poverty we are seeing (and creating)

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Edmonton’s homeless shelters home to body lice, ‘refugee-camp-like conditions’